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Rights to Public Benefits, Healthcare, and

Sensitive Locations

Public Benefits

Undocumented individuals have the right to apply for and receive SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid
for eligible family members (U.S. citizen child).
If an undocumented individual applies for public benefits for an eligible family member,
agency workers will not report the undocumented individual to law enforcement.
Example: If an undocumented mother applies for TANF benefits for her U.S. citizen child, she
will not be reported to law enforcement agencies.
Anyone who gives false information to the agency or presents fake or fraudulent documents could
be arrested regardless of who they are seeking benefits for. Therefore, families must tell the truth
about income and other matters.
Law: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 404; 63
FR 41622, 41672 and 41684; Public Law 104-193 as amended by 104-209, 105-33 and
105-185; 65 FR 70166.

All undocumented immigrants who qualify have the legal right to apply for WIC and will not
be reported for applying!

Applying for or receiving SNAP/TANF and Medicaid for an eligible family member does not
make a non-citizen a public charge. That is, a non-citizen to the United States will not be
deported, denied entry to the country, or denied permanent status because of receipt of
Receiving these benefits does not typically make a person a public charge; however, a
person may be deemed a public charge if the benefits are their only source of financial
means or income.

DSS, HUD, DHHS, and SSA will only report undocumented immigrants if the following is true:
1. the immigrant is applying for benefits for himself/herself & not his/her eligible children
or family
2. the immigrant gives the agency papers that state he/she is here illegally, such as a final
order of removal
3. the agency makes an official decision that the immigrant is here illegally.
4.the immigrant has given false information on paper work or presented fraudulent or false
documents to obtain benefits.

If your rights are violated! Immigrants may refuse to tell a Health and Human Services employee
their immigration status. HHS is not supposed to ask about immmigration status, but only about
the status of an immigrants US citizen child. If an HHS employee asks about immigration status,
take down the employees name and contact Appleed Justice 803-779-1113, or PASOs, 803-777-
0188, to help.

Reference: South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Centers Advocates Guide To Immigrant Issues In South Carolina

Access to Healthcare

Any entity receiving HRSA or Title X funds and any FQHCs must serve all clients, regardless of
immigration status and these entities do not ask patients their legal status.
Sometimes these agencies will ask for valid identification to comply with federal health laws.
Individuals can present valid up-to-date foreign identification that has their real name.

Hospitals serve undocumented immigrants and hospital staff has no duty to report
undocumented immigrants.
Hospitals will only turn in people who fail to pay their bills after they go to collection and
those who require specialized out patient care and cannot be discharged to a nursing home
or other facility due to not having insurance, Medicaid or Medicare to cover the costs.
Law: Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA)
Section 1011.

Sensitive Locations

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection
policies provide that enforcement actions at sensitive locations will be avoided & may only
take place when prior approval is obtained from appropriate supervisory officials, or there are
exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action without supervisor approval.
Sensitive locations include but are not limited to the following:
Schools or education-related activities, and school bus stops that are marked and/or known
to the officer, during periods when school children are present at the stop;
Medical treatment and health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors offices, health clinics,
and emergent or urgent care facilities;
Places of worship, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples;
Religious or civil ceremonies or observances, such as funerals and weddings;
During public demonstration, such as a march, rally, or parade.

Schools cannot report undocumented children unless they have the parents permission or are
given a subpoena.
Some schools publish a school directory with student names, addresses, countries of birth;
parents and students have the right to choose not to be included in the student directory.
Law: Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982)

Assistance and Benefits for All Persons Regardless of Legal Status
(Immigration status will not be verified for these programs)
Emergency Room, Emergency medical assistance, and community health clinics
School breakfast and lunch programs
Head Start
Emergency services, shelter/ food/clothing
Police, fire, ambulance, public transportation (like buses)
Law: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act and 8 USC 161121

Reference: South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Centers Advocates Guide To Immigrant Issues In South Carolina

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